Time for tide..

I find it a matter of great surprise that an offshore island surrounded by tidal water somehow manages to largely ignore this potential energy source which is regular and predictable.

Wind may not always blow but, until the moon goes awol, tides will always flow.

The world’s most powerful tidal turbine is, I read, moored off Orkney.

The Scottish government, to its credit, has helped with the finance and also another scheme in the Pentland Firth – but there are not just tidal flows in Scotland.

The UK government rejected help for the Swansea tidal lagoon utilising the substantial tides of the Bristol Channel – I imagine the use of a lagoon was to prolong the operating period. Without it, it seems that there is generally sufficient power in a tidal flow for about 14 hours a day.

The UK has more than 7,500 miles of coast and there are estimates that tidal power would be able to supply around 20% of the country’s electricity. Being an island there is a tidal flow around the UK 24 hours a day. You might have thought that that would be a smart contribution to a reliable, green, base load electricity generation system. It could, to coin a phrase, be world-beating.

Government has of course concern about the high capital costs – but the operational costs once built, are minimal.

Isn’t that called investment for the future?

Very sadly for us all it is something that the current UK government seems to have little grasp of.


  1. Schofield -

    It’s to be hoped in fifty years time, if there’s still a Planet Earth, voters will wonder why so soon after the end of the Second World War politicians and voters descended to kindergarten level in their economic and monetary thinking! It feels like it will take fifty years for them to wise up!

  2. Jeremy GH -

    The other renewable enery technology that I remember from the past (I recall several pieces about it on TV) is ‘Salter’s Duck’, to harvest wave power for electricity generation. Whatever happened to it? And should the concept be resurrected? Like tidal, it seems an obvious energy source for this country.

    1. Peter May -

      Very interesting link to Salter’s Duck – thank you, I didn’t know that. Wave power still seems to be ‘just around the corner’ but never quite there.
      If we’d spent the last 35 years refining its development (instead perhaps, barely rebuilding nuclear power and decommissioning most of it and then storing the waste – which often seems to be forgotten in to the cost) we’d probably have a whole fleet of ‘ducks’ by now….

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